International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development

The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development is celebrated all over the world every 5th of December each year. This celebration is also known as the International Volunteer Day or IVD for short. It is an international observance mandated by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1985. During this day, various organizations and individuals participate in volunteerism. They also promote it by encouraging all the people, especially the government, to support the efforts of volunteerism as well as to recognize volunteerism contributions.

International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development
A United Nations Holiday that encourages various organizations and individuals to participate in volunteerism
When Celebrated:December 5
Date: December 5, 
Volunteer activities help toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Volunteer activities, community works, volunteerism marches

About the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development

Celebrated on December 5, the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development is the chance for volunteers to showcase and celebrate their efforts. They share their values with each other and promote their work in the communities where they belong.

That is why during this day, volunteers are put into the spotlight. Awards and recognitions are given to deserving volunteers. People are also encouraged to volunteer and make them realize how they can help save and change the world by doing so. There are a lot of organizations and groups covering specific volunteer activities. People are encouraged to join in the type that they like.

All these concerted efforts lead towards economic and social development. Various volunteer activities help toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Activities and events for the day help promote the impact of volunteering and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, via volunteering to achieve the following objectives:

  • Help eradicate poverty.
  • Achieve universal primary education.
  • Promote gender equality and empower women.
  • Reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.
  • Reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases.
  • Help ensure environmental sustainability.

International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development History

It was on December 5, 1985, when the UN general assembly formally declared the celebration of International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development. It was a result of their resolution from December 17, 1985, that guided all government, civil society organizations, and communities to work together with volunteers all around the world to celebrate this special day every 5th of December.

In the year 2001, the UN General Assembly adopted recommendations on how the governments and the UN could support volunteerism. It was also during this year’s celebration when information about volunteerism was encouraged to be widely disseminated. Specifically, the celebration also aimed to stimulate volunteerism, recognize it, facilitate more of it, and promote it. Because of this, a better appreciation of such an event was seen by the people. The power of volunteerism became clear to the people as they found out how important it is and the many easy ways to support it.


As mentioned earlier, the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development is always celebrated on the 5th of December each year. This means that the dates of such event are as follows:

  • Saturday, December 5, 2015
  • Monday, December 5, 2016
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017
  • Wednesday, December 5,
  • Thursday, December 5,
  • Saturday, December 5,
  • Sunday, December 5,
  • Monday, December 5, 2022
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2023
  • Thursday, December 5, 2024
  • Friday, December 5, 2025

Why Celebrate

The following are the main reasons why you should participate in the celebration of the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development:

To Encourage Volunteerism

One good reason why you should participate in the celebration of this day is that it is the best opportunity for you to encourage volunteerism. As you know, volunteerism lacks manpower. There are a lot of organizations helping people who need volunteers for their activities. If you promote volunteerism by celebrating this day, then that is already a big help on your part.

To Become a Volunteer

Or perhaps you may want to become a volunteer yourself. If so, then celebrating this day is the best opportunity for you to learn more about what it is like to be a volunteer. The feel-good factor is perhaps the best thing that you can feel when you help other people through volunteering.

To Help the World Attaining the SDGs

You should also celebrate this day in order to help the world attain the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. Various volunteerism activities are catered towards the achievement of a specific SDG. For instance, volunteer activities focused on feeding healthy foods to the children aim to achieve the elimination of malnutrition.

Celebration Ideas and Activities

The following are the best things to do to make your celebration of the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development as best as it can be:

Join Community Projects

One good thing you can do for this day is a really good one and the obvious one too – volunteer. You can join community projects and contribute there by being a volunteer. There are a lot of such projects to volunteer in and you have the freedom to choose the one that you want to join. But be sure to also consider their need. There may be less popular projects that really need manpower so you may want to take a look at them too and make a difference by helping them.

Participate in Parades and Marches

You can also celebrate this day by participating in parades and marches about volunteerism. These usually advocate, campaign, and promote volunteerism. Joining this can help in encouraging more people to become volunteers and help the world become a better place.

Watch Award Ceremonies for Outstanding Volunteers

Another good thing to do for this event is to watch award ceremonies that recognize outstanding volunteers. You can be inspired by these people and tell about them to the people that you know including your friends and family.

Celebrate on Social Media

You can also take your celebration of this day on social media. For instance, you can use the hashtag #InternationalVolunteerDayForEconomicAndSocialDevelopment to let your friends and followers know that you are also participating in the celebration of this day.

Themes of International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development

Every year, the celebration of the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development features a specific theme. The following have been the themes of the past celebration of this event:

International Volunteer Day – “Volunteers build Resilient Communities”: IVD celebrates volunteer efforts that strengthen local ownership and the resilience of the community in the face of natural disasters, economic stresses, and political shocks. The event on 5 December focused on how volunteers can build resilient communities.

International Volunteer Day 2017 “Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere”: The focus of IVD 2017 was to recognize the positive solidarity of volunteers around the world who answer calls in times of crisis, helping save lives today and supporting those who want to continue living their lives with dignity tomorrow.

International Volunteer Day 2016 – “

”: Under this theme, IVD presented a round of global applause to celebrate volunteers everywhere and encouraged others to join in and contribute to peace and sustainable development.

International Volunteer Day 2015 – “Your world is changing. Are you? Volunteer!”: The goal of IVD 2015 was to start a dialogue about how volunteerism is vital to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda.

International Volunteer Day 2014 – “Make change happen, volunteer!”: The goal of IVD 2014 was to highlight the contribution of volunteers in engaging people from the grassroots in decision-making processes, ultimately creating spaces for participation that lead to stronger governance, social cohesion, peace, and sustainable development.

International Volunteer Day 2013 – “Young. Global. Active”: The goal of the event was to pay special tribute to the contribution of youth volunteers to global peace and sustainable human development, highlighting that young people act as agents of change in their communities.

International Volunteer Day 2012 – “Celebrate volunteering”: The event celebrated its commitment and hope for a better world. The main focus of IVD 2012 was awareness of and recognition for volunteers and volunteer organizations.

Symbol of International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development

The main symbol of this day is the IVD logo. This logo contains two olive branches that contain three Vs in a cup-like shape. Each V has a bullet point at the tip of the letter. Hence, the Vs were drawn to make them look like simple figures of human sticks joined in unity. The words “International Volunteer Day” can be found under the olive branches. The background of the symbol is white while the words are in the color orange.


“Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.” – Albert Schweitzer

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agrees to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You can study government and politics in school, but the best way to really understand the process is to volunteer your time.” – Rob McKenna

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” – Winston Churchill

“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck

“You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man.” – Seth Parker

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”. – anonymous

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” – Oscar Wilde

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